Creativity and education: Teaching the unfamiliar

Year: 2012

Author: Pollard, Vikki

Type of paper: Refereed paper


The development of capacities of creativity is increasingly becoming important in higher education (McWilliam and Haukka, 2008, Csikszentmihalyi, 2006, Edward, McGoldrick & Oliver, 2006). Using Koestler's (1980) The act of creation, creativity in this paper is defined as the art of breaking habits; an art requiring a shift in perspective. The interest in creativity as an outcome of education raises important questions about teaching for creativity and the link with habits provides a focus for development of teaching practice. The aim of such practice is to develop techniques to teach students how to break their habits of thought and action in order to conceive of the new. However, this is not an easy goal as breaking habits is traumatic and not something people are eager to do (Peirce, 1940). What is required are techniques that aim at developing the capacity in students to break their habits.

My aim with this paper is to suggest one such technique. I draw from Lev Vygotsky's (1927/1997) theory of aesthetic education, to discuss what I believe is a pre-eminent technique for developing creativity; Russian Formalist technique of ostranenie, or estrangement, as first analysed by Viktor Shklovsky in 1917. Finally, I suggest ways of incorporating ostranenie into teaching practice in order to open the way for further development.